ALLOUEZ — Fr. Scott Valentyn’s ordination to the priesthood on June 25 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay continues a transformation in his spiritual life and relationship with God. Reflecting back to when he entered formation, the biggest change over the past seven years is his understanding of prayer, he said.
“When I first started down this path, I felt like I always had to approach God with the greatest degree of formality,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with addressing God in a formal tone, but, at least for me, I had to learn that simply talking to God was prayer. I could just sit down and honestly tell him what I was going through even if that meant telling him that I was frustrated with the way he was handling things. Once I started being able to relate to God on that much more personal level, my spiritual life grew dramatically.”
Fr. Valentyn, a Little Chute native, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for two years before entering St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
“I didn’t truly feel called to the priesthood until the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college,” he said. “After experiencing a deepening in my faith, I began to sense that God might be calling me to the priesthood and discerned it by spending a lot of time in prayer and talking to priests that I knew about their own call. After that, I realized the only way for me to truly discern this call was to enter seminary.”
The past four years, Fr. Valentyn studied theology at Pontifical North American College in Rome. The opportunity allowed him to see the church in a more universal way, he said.
“Experiencing a new culture and seeing how their style of worship is the same as, and different from, ours will always stand out to me,” he said.
During his homily at the ordination Mass, which attracted an overflow crowd, Bishop David Ricken described Fr. Valentyn as “quick-witted with strong speech,” although one experience at the Vatican left him speechless.
“I got to shake the pope’s (Pope Francis) hand,” said Fr. Valentyn. “It’s hard to forget something like that, even if my greeting to him consisted of me just laughing because for the first time ever, I was at a loss for words.”
One downfall to studying in Rome was limited opportunities to serve as a deacon. He was able to serve as a deacon occasionally, but did not have a “regular teaching parish,” he said.
Fr. Valentyn is one of four sons of Dan and Deb Valentyn. He is quick to point out that he is not the youngest. Twin brother Robb was born 11 minutes later. He is thankful to his family and all those who have supported and influenced his vocation.
“I am truly grateful for all of the different people and groups that have helped me. Some of the most important for me were the Colorado Leadership Retreat, St. Paul’s Campus Catholic Center in Madison, Catholic Youth Expeditions, the Missionaries of the Word, and, of course, my home parish of St. John Nepomucene in Little Chute. All have served as models for me in that they have shown me the importance of expressing God’s love to others on an individual level. We have been stressing the importance of discipleship in our diocese for some time now, and I think each and every one of these groups taught me how to truly be a disciple.”
Fr. Valentyn has been appointed to serve as parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Parish in Howard. He served at the parish two years ago as a seminarian.
“The people there were so welcoming and I loved my experience,” he said. “I can’t wait to return to the parish as a priest and be involved there in a different capacity and for a much longer amount of time.
“I’ve been in seminary studying to be a parish priest for seven years and now I finally get to be in a parish,” he added. “I can’t wait to celebrate all the sacraments with the people of our diocese, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation. I also look forward to being involved in youth ministry activities.”
In addition to serving at St. John the Baptist, Fr. Valentyn, who participated in several sports while growing up and runs often, will also celebrate the weekly Mass at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“I am very much looking forward to being present to the students there, since it was while I was a student that I had a deepening of my faith,” he said. “I can’t wait to help others to experience the same.”
Fr. Valentyn, who has been inspired by the martyrs, including St. Edmund Campion, celebrated his first Mass of thanksgiving on June 26 at St. John Nepomucene Church. He cannot thank the people of the parish enough for their prayers and support, he said.
“It was such a blessing to always know I had a home to come back to while I was away studying,” he said. “Having been a member of St. John’s since before I can remember, and being able to come back to the same loving family time and time again, has been a great gift that I hope to repay as a priest for our diocese.”
VIEW MORE PHOTOS: To view more photos from the ordination, visit our Flickr page.